ENG691 201901 Graduate

Fall 2019
ENG 691
Applies To: 
Composition Theory: Rhetoric--Past and Future

James Crosswhite

James Crosswhite profile picture
  • Title: Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-3956
  • Office: 258 PLC
  • Office Hours: S20 TR 1-2:30 and by appointment; contact via email for Zoom address
Department Section Description: 

This seminar will examine the idea and the substance of the rhetorical tradition. We will study a careful selection of some of the main texts of that tradition—from the ancients to the moderns—and we will try to imagine what possible futures could belong to it. That is, we will ask about the future of the tradition in a way that is informed by our knowledge of how that tradition has found ways of changing and renewing itself in the past. We will keep a close eye on rhetoric’s connection with processes of democratization; its potential for serving as the core of a liberal arts curriculum; its power to inform the teaching of writing and speaking; its ability to describe how people reason and persuade one another in conditions of uncertainty; and its connection with a theory of reason as a kind of justice. The rhetorical tradition and much rhetorical theory envision the goals of a rhetorical education as cultivating, over time, a certain kind of person with certain habits of mind, powers of judgment, and higher skills who can speak and write well in various situations and for various purposes, so we will also pay close attention to the nature of these capabilities and the kind of person who has them. Although we will mostly stay within what is called the Western or European tradition of rhetoric, we will also raise lots of questions about what that or any tradition might actually be, and we will explore some of the historiographical questions that attend the very notion of the history of rhetoric.